Probe re­veals fraud in Bel­gian soccer

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - World - – AFP

Bel­gian prose­cu­tors have charged 19 sus­pects and de­tained nine in a mas­sive fraud and match-fix­ing scan­dal that has mired Bel­gium's elite league in scan­dal, they said on Fri­day.

The charges came af­ter po­lice carried out a mas­sive op­er­a­tion in Bel­gium on Wed­nes­day, ar­rest­ing 29 peo­ple, 10 of whom were re­leased with­out charges.

Among the de­tained were at least three play­ers' agents, a ref­eree, and a top ex­ec­u­tive from a ma­jor foot­ball club.

Mogi Bayat, por­trayed in the me­dia as Bel­gium's most pow­er­ful sports agent, was charged with money laun­der­ing and con­spir­acy.

Ref­eree Bart Ver­ten­ten was also charged with con­spir­acy and ar­rested, while former An­der­lecht club lawyer Lau­rent De­nis was charged for both con­spir­acy and money laun­der­ing.

On Thurs­day, an­other ref­eree, Se­bastien Delferiere, was charged but was im­me­di­ately re­leased on pa­role.

Ver­ten­ten and Delferiere were sus­pended on Thurs­day. The charges against ref­er­ees are part of a probe into sus­pected match-fix­ing.

The op­er­a­tion led to a to­tal of 60 po­lice searches on Wed­nes­day, in­clud­ing the head­quar­ters of lead­ing clubs in the Bel­gian first divi­sion, with Club Brugge, An­der­lecht, Stan­dard Liege and Genk among them.

The huge op­er­a­tion took place si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Bel­gium and six other Euro­pean coun­tries, in­clud­ing France and Ser­bia, where an agent was ar­rested on Thurs­day and awaits extradition.

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